Austerity affects everyone in Scotland, but it’s the most vulnerable who are hardest hit, as services are cut back, jobs go, pay is cut and living standards fall.
Today, UNISON Scotland has published a report, ‘The Cuts Don’t Work: The impact of ‘austerity’ cuts on Scotland’s public services’ – showing what’s really happening to public services across the country.
The report highlights that Scotland’s budget is being slashed by more than £6 billion in real terms. Around 50,000 public sector jobs have already gone with a further 60,000 expected jobs expected to go over the next 5 years. And local authorities have little choice but to put up charges for services like school meals, burials and cremations, day care and home care rates as they attempt to balance the books as a result of the ongoing council tax freeze.
As you would expect, there is plenty of analysis of the numbers, although we have illustrated these using charts and info graphics. In addition, we use our members’ experiences of the impact of cuts – telling their own stories in their own words.
They tell a story of how the cuts are piling on pressure to overworked, underpaid staff across Scotland including in hospitals, schools, police support staff, colleges and the voluntary sector and it is bringing public services to breaking point. Some of the comments included:
"If I was given the time and energy to apply to the families that I work with I could change their lives forever, but currently we stick plasters on wounds that need stitches." Social worker
"Growing workloads are a real problem. We often have to work through breaks, or work late, just to do the job properly and deliver the right level of care." Community midwife
"It’s getting worse. I don’t know where it’s going to end, no one cares about the patient or client anymore." Home carer
This report shows the damage cuts do to local communities, local economies and the fabric of our society. They are the result of decisions and choices made at every level of Government; local, Scottish and UK.
There is a better way because we can afford public services. Cuts are neither necessary nor inevitable and Scotland could have the properly funded and accountable public services our society needs.